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RX 6800 XT vs 3080: Which High-End GPU is Best?

RX 6800 XT vs 3080

While NVIDIA’s 40-series GPU offerings have started to hit the shelves, the lower end of the next-gen graphics card lineup hasn’t been filled. This means the RX 6800 XT and RTX 3080 are great high-end options even at the end of 2022.

And yes, these cards are still high-end, even with the existence of the RTX 4090 and RTX 4080. These next-gen cards don’t change the fact that the 3080 and 6800 XT are expensive powerhouse GPUs, capable of churning out frames even at high resolutions.

Both cards have their pros and cons, and now that prices have dropped following the global GPU shortage, they both have a new lease of life ahead of them.

To compare the 6800 XT vs 3080 and decide which one to buy, we need to consider not just how much these GPUs cost and how they perform, but also their longevity and how they fit into the current market. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look.

RX 6800 XT Advantages

  • Currently almost $200 (27%) cheaper than an RTX 3080
  • Performs slightly better at 1080p
  • Performs the same at 1440p and only slightly worse at 4K
  • More VRAM capacity for longevity
  • More power efficient
  • Its cheaper cost keeps it away from expensive next-gen territory

RTX 3080 Advantages

  • Better 4K performance
  • Much better ray tracing performance
  • NVIDIA features like DLSS, GSync, and Reflex
  • Wider memory bandwidth
  • Faster GDDR6X memory

What is the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT?

The AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT is a high-end graphics card that launched in November 2020.

Based on AMD’s ‘RDNA 2’ architecture, the 6800 XT opts for raw horsepower compared to NVIDIA’s ‘Ampere’ GPUs, which tend to have more diverse technology packed into them at the expense of higher clock speeds.

Best RX 6800 XT Graphics Cards

The RX 6800 XT is targeted against the RTX 3080 as a high-end card capable of high refresh rate or 4K gaming.

What is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080?

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 is another high-end graphics card, and it launched in September 2020, a couple of months before the 6800 XT.

Based on NVIDIA’s ‘Ampere’ architecture, the 3080 tries to deliver enough raw rasterization horsepower for high refresh rate and 4K gaming, whilst also offering great ray tracing and AI-aided upscaling performance.

Best RTX 3080 Graphics Cards

The RTX 3080 acted as a baseline for high-end GPUs for a long time, and its closest competition is AMD’s RX 6800 XT.

NVIDIA vs AMD Features

NVIDIA and AMD GPUs both have similar feature sets but different specific implementations of these features across different technologies.

Current-gen NVIDIA cards offer all that AMD cards do, but also have extra features available to them that AMD GPUs don’t have access to.

DLSS and FSR

Possibly the biggest selling point for NVIDIA GPUs is their ability to implement DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) upscaling technology. AMD cards can’t use DLSS, but they can use FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution).

Both DLSS and FSR render games at lower than native resolution and then use AI to upscale it back to native resolution. This reduces the amount of rasterization work your GPU needs to perform, increasing your FPS and hopefully maintaining the graphical fidelity of your native resolution.

NVIDIA cards have the advantage here. DLSS tends to look a little better than FSR, and NVIDIA cards can use both DLSS and FSR while AMD cards can only use the latter.

GSync and FreeSync

Most monitors these days come with either GSync, GSync Compatible, or FreeSync capabilities. When paired with compatible GPUs, these monitors sync their refresh rate with your frame rate to prevent screen tearing.

Read More: G-Sync vs FreeSync: Which Adaptive Sync Tech is Better?

But just like with DLSS and FSR, NVIDIA GPUs have the advantage here, because they can use both GSync and FreeSync, whereas AMD GPUs can only use FreeSync or GSync Compatible technologies.

DLDSR and VSR

NVIDIA DLDSR and AMD VSR technologies make your GPU render your game at higher than your native resolution and then downscale this back to your monitor’s native resolution. This should reduce jagged edges in-game and make things appear clearer.

Both DLDSR and VSR work well, so there’s no clear-cut winner between NVIDIA and AMD GPUs. Plus, these technologies aren’t very commonly used, so they’re not a big selling point for most gamers.

NVIDIA Reflex, NULL, and AMD Anti-Lag

With system latency and input lag, the feature set story is much the same: NVIDIA offers all that AMD does and more.

Also Read: What is Input Lag & How Can You Fix/Test It?

AMD and NVIDIA both offer driver-level input lag reduction technology, this being NVIDIA’s Ultra-Low-Latency (NULL) and AMD’s Anti-Lag settings. These work by reducing your game’s render queue to decrease overall system latency.

But NVIDIA also has another option in games that support it, this being Reflex. Reflex tries to get the game to process everything just in time for when the frame needs to be displayed on-screen, and it reduces input latency much more than either NULL or Anti-Lag.

One thing that AMD has going for it on this front is the fact that Anti-Lag now works with DirectX 12, while NULL doesn’t. And not all games support Reflex, so AMD might have the win on the ‘supported game’ front.

6800 XT vs 3080 Price

The AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT has an MSRP of $649, and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 has an MSRP of $699, making it $50 more expensive than the AMD GPU at recommended pricing.

However, real-world prices don’t always align with MSRPs.

Currently, you’re likely to find most RTX 3080 cards retailing anywhere between $700 and $1,100. And you’re likely to find most RX 6800 XT cards going for anywhere from $530 to $1,000.

This means that 6800 XT cards are now retailing for almost $200, or 27%, cheaper than most RTX 3080 cards.

Cheaper Alternatives

Because the RX 6800 XT and RTX 3080 are high-end offerings of their respective GPU generations, there aren’t any previous-generation video cards that can offer similar performance. Even the RTX 2080 Ti doesn’t hold a candle to the performance of these two newer cards.

But there are alternatives if you aren’t set on top-end performance.

Also Read: RX 6600 XT vs RTX 3060: Which GPU Should You Get?

For example, if you only game at 1080p, a 6800 XT or 3080 will probably be overkill, even for high refresh rate gaming. If you’re only gaming at 1080p, a sub-$400 RX 6600 XT might be a better value GPU, especially given its current low prices.

Read More: NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti Review: Still a Great GPU Upgrade Right Now

If you game at 1440p but don’t want to play the most demanding games at max settings on a high refresh rate monitor, you might find that a sub-$500 RTX 3060 Ti is all that you need. This is still one of the best value graphics cards out there for 1440p gaming.

Graphics Card Specs

RX 6800 XT RTX 3080
GPU Navi 21 GA102
CUDA Cores / Stream Processors 4,608 8,704
Tensor Cores 272
RT Cores / Ray Accelerators 72 68
Stream Multiprocessors / Compute Units 72 68
Memory 16GB GDDR6 10GB GDDR6X
Memory speed 16GT/s 19GT/s
Memory bandwidth 512GB/s 760GB/s
Clock speed (base/boost) 1.83GHz / 2.25GHz 1.44GHz / 1.71GHz
Power connector (reference) 2x 8-pin 1x 12-pin
TDP 300W 320W

While we shouldn’t come to any conclusions about these graphics cards based on their specs alone, there are a few things that we can say.

Both the Radeon RX 6800 XT and GeForce RTX 3080 are high-end graphics cards, featuring high-end GPUs crammed full of shader cores.

As is true across the entire NVIDIA 30-series and AMD 6000-series GPU lineups, the competing NVIDIA card, here, has more shader cores but lower base and boost clocks than the AMD card.

The RTX 3080 also has Tensor Cores. These are used for machine learning, which helps the NVIDIA GPU implement things like DLSS. AMD’s RDNA 2 GPUs have nothing equivalent to this, but the company is looking to add something similar to their next-gen RDNA 3 GPUs.

We can see that the RTX 3080 has more memory bandwidth thanks to its wider memory bus, and its memory clock is also quicker, allowing for 19GT/s (gigatransfers per second). Its speed is thanks, in part, to the fact that it uses GDDR6X rather than GDDR6 memory.

However, that the RX 6800 XT uses AMD’s Infinity Cache should make us reserve judgment on its narrower memory bandwidth, since it acts to effectively (if not technically) increase the GPU’s memory bandwidth. The 6800 XT also has 6GB extra VRAM capacity compared to the 3080, which should increase its longevity for 4K gaming in games with large texture file sizes.

There isn’t much difference between the two graphics cards’ official specs when it comes to power consumption. The 6800 XT has a TDP (thermal design power) or TBP (Total Board Power) of 300W, while the 3080 is rated at 320W. NVIDIA and AMD both recommend a 750W power supply for the respective GPUs.

What is the RTX 3080 12GB?

There’s also a 12GB version of the RTX 3080 which was released in January 2022.

The 12GB version has an extra 2GB of GDDR6X VRAM, 256 more CUDA Cores, 2 extra RT Cores, 8 extra Tensor Cores, and a slightly lower base clock.

In practice, there’s little difference between the two 3080 cards. Both will net roughly the same average framerates. But if you can find a 12GB version for the same price as (or only a little more than) the 10GB version, there’s no reason not to go for it.

The 12GB 3080 is pretty much the same as the 10GB 3080 when compared to the 6800 XT, except that when comparing the newer 3080 there’s less incentive to opt for the AMD card purely for its VRAM capacity.

Gaming Performance

The AMD RX 6800 XT and NVIDIA RTX 3080 are graphics cards bred for one purpose: churning through any game you throw at them, on any resolution. And both cards deliver on this promise.

They don’t perform identically across different resolutions, though. As such, we need to compare results across different resolutions and with different technologies enabled or disabled.

Also Read: 1080p vs. 1440p vs. 4K: Which Resolution Is Best for Gaming?

We’ve averaged out the results of different online benchmarks, both new and old, such as those from TechSpot, TomsHardware, and PCGamer, to give you a good idea of how these cards stack up against each other across different resolutions and with different system configurations.

Remember, what we’re discussing is only the GPUs’ average performance difference across resolutions, and some games will swing more significantly in favor of one card or the other. If you have specific games in mind, it’s best to check out individual benchmarks for those.

1080p Benchmarks

At 1080p, it’s no surprise both graphics cards demolish pretty much any title you might throw at them. It’s almost not worth comparing the two for just this resolution, since the frame rates are so high that you likely won’t notice a difference between the two GPUs, even at high refresh rates.

While both cards will get you over 100fps on ultra settings at 1080p even in the most graphically intensive games, the 6800 XT does edge in front of the 3080 at this resolution. On average, the 6800 XT should perform about 5% faster than the 3080 at 1080p—perhaps even faster, with recent AMD driver updates.

In real terms, though, this translates to the difference between, say, 380fps and 400fps on less demanding games, or between 165fps and 155fps in moderately demanding games, or between 120fps and 126fps in very demanding games. At these frame rates, slight differences aren’t too noticeable.

1440p Benchmarks

At 1440p, the RX 6800 XT and RTX 3080 should both keep you well above 100fps in the vast majority of games at ultra settings. Only in the most demanding games should frame rates drop below 100fps at max settings, and even then, they should stay well above 60fps.

Also Read: Is 1440P Worth it for Gaming?

At this resolution, on average, the 6800 XT and RTX 3080 perform about the same. There’s an advantage of just over 1% for the 6800 XT, but this is within a margin of error and is visually insignificant.

4K Benchmarks

At 4K resolution, things turn around for the RTX 3080. On average, the 6800 XT gives frame rates about 5% lower than the 3080 when gaming at max settings—even with AMD’s updated drivers.

Also Read: Is 60Hz Good for Gaming?

At 4K, these frame rates can make a difference to your gaming experience. After all, remember that this 5% difference is just an average, and in some games the difference might be bigger. In some games, for example, the 3080 might give you 70fps on average while the 6800 XT might give you 60fps. And this 60fps average would likely include some dips below a smooth 60.

Also Read: Is 4K Worth it for Gaming? Why Most Gamers Don’t Need a 4K Monitor

In most games, however, frame rates are still high enough for the difference to amount to very little. In moderately demanding or non-demanding games, both GPUs should still give you above 100fps, and in most demanding games you should still get over 60fps at max settings.

Ray Tracing and Upscaling

While not every game supports ray tracing, many gamers will want to enable it when possible, especially if they’re buying a high-end card like the 3080 or 6800 XT.

Ray tracing is where the GeForce RTX 3080 has a real edge over the Radeon RX 6800 XT. AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture simply isn’t designed to handle ray tracing as well as NVIDIA’s Ampere architecture is.

On average, ray traced games run about 50% faster on the RTX 3080 than on a 6800 XT. At 1440p, this might mean the difference between a choppy 45fps on the 6800 XT and a solid 60fps on the 3080.

The NVIDIA card also gives you the option to use DLSS when it’s available in-game. This upscaling technology should allow you to almost offset ray tracing’s performance cost entirely. Or, if you don’t enable ray tracing, it can give you a sizeable frame rate boost.

AMD has FSR instead of DLSS, but the technology’s graphical fidelity isn’t quite there yet and it hasn’t been implemented in as many games.

Performance Summary

In sum, we can see that AMD’s RX 6800 XT performs a little better than NVIDIA’s RTX 3080 at 1080p and a little worse than it at 4K, with the two performing roughly the same at 1440p.

The performance loss at 4K is arguably more important because these lost frames will be more visible at 4K’s lower frame rates. Because of this, the RTX 3080 has the provisional win, unless you’re not fussed about 4K gaming.

Where the 6800 XT really loses out, however, is in ray tracing performance. The AMD card performs worse at ray tracing than even the RTX 3070 and the previous-gen flagship RTX 2080 Ti. Sure, it’s not terrible at it, but if you care about ray tracing, an RTX 3080 is a better option and might be worth the currently much steeper price tag. And with DLSS to boot, there’s little downside to enabling it.

Is it Worth Buying a 6800 XT or 3080 Right Now?

The elephant in the room is that NVIDIA is currently releasing 40-series GPUs and AMD is soon to release 7000-series GPUs.

Both the RX 6800 XT and RTX 3080 are still viable choices, though, and they will be for some time. NVIDIA’s 40-series lineup is looking primed to hike next-gen GPU costs across the board, so there’s no guarantee that lower-end 40-series offerings will out-value the 6800 XT or RTX 3080. (Of course, only time will tell.)

On the other hand, given that these GPUs—especially the RTX 3080—are still expensive, it might make sense to hold off and see what NVIDIA has in store with its lower-end 40-series offerings. After all, part of what makes a new GPU generation great isn’t just raw performance, but also the new technologies that come along with it, such as NVIDIA’s next-gen DLSS 3.

6800 XT vs 3080 Verdict: Which High-End GPU Wins?

What we see with the 6800 XT vs 3080 is the same story that’s told across pretty much the entire 30-series and 6000-series lineups: the respective AMD card performs better at 1080p, very slightly better or identically at 1440p, worse at 4K, and much worse with ray tracing enabled.

These cards are a little different to the lower-end comparisons, though. They both offer such stellar frame rates across all resolutions that the 5% average differences here or there seem somewhat insignificant—although perhaps these differences become significant at the low framerates of more demanding games played at 4K resolution.

What’s missing from this picture, though, is the two cards’ prices. If we were comparing the two based on their MSRPs, it would probably be a win for the RTX 3080, especially if we throw the 12GB version of the card into the mix.

But, as things stand, the 6800 XT can currently be found for much cheaper than the 3080 in the US. While this remains true, it’s difficult to recommend the 3080 over the 6800 XT unless you feel you must get your hands on the absolute best ray tracing performance possible.

With the 6800 XT’s recent price drop, it also makes much more sense to buy one over a 3080 because of the impending next-gen NVIDIA and AMD GPUs. NVIDIA’s 40-series looks to be expensive, so the gap in the market is favoring those GPUs that keep as far from that price range as possible. If a GPU can steer clear of this price hike whilst also offering high-end performance in every respect except ray tracing, that leaves it in a solid spot. This is the spot the 6800 XT is in.

Jacob Fox

Jacob's been tinkering with computer hardware for over a decade, and he's written hardware articles for various PC gaming websites. Outside of the wonderful world of PC hardware, he's currently undertaking a PhD in philosophy, with a focus on topics surrounding the meaning of life.

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